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YONKERS-The compromise agreement between Gov. David Paterson and state legislative leaders earlier this week on reform of New York State’s brownfield cleanup program was applauded by Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone.

Amicone, who is also president of the New York Chapter of the National Brownfield Association, says, “I’m pleased to see that our leaders in Albany have recognized the need for this crucial program to continue because of the important role it has played in the redevelopment of New York’s older industrial cities. Now that the legislature has secured the future of the program and taken additional steps to prevent misuse, it’s up to state agencies, most specifically DEC, to get the program up and running again to make sure that New York’s cities will continue to realize the environmental and economic benefits of brownfield cleanups.” The mayor notes that the program has been under a moratorium since last year when state lawmakers began to debate reform proposals for the program. A plan by former Governor Eliot Spitzer “would have decimated the brownfield cleanup program,” Mayor Amicone charges.

Under the new law, developers will be reimbursed up to 50% of the cost of cleaning up a brownfield, compared to 22% in the old program. It further sets a cap for redevelopment credits on non-manufacturing projects to $35 million or three times the cost of site cleanup, whichever is less. For manufacturing projects, the cap is higher: up to $45 million or six times the cost of cleanup. Amicone notes that former Gov. Spitzer’s bill would have set a maximum cap of $15 million.

“I think we all realized that there was a need for some sort of cap to prevent most of the funds being siphoned by large development projects in New York City, but the cap had to be reasonable. It was also obvious that Gov. Paterson wanted to do more to urge developers to achieve higher standards of environmental remediation, which we support.” Amicone says. “This compromise achieves both of those objectives while keeping the economic incentives in place for developers who put a substantial amount of their own money at risk in cities across New York State.”

The brownfield cleanup program has been key to the recent redevelopment efforts on the Yonkers waterfront, including the $200-million Hudson Park apartment project; the $50-million Main Street Lofts development and the $50-million redevelopment of iPark Hudson. The state aid for environmental cleanup of contaminated sites on the city’s waterfront will also be critical for mega projects in the development pipeline in Yonkers that include: the $1.5-billion Struever-Fidelco-Cappelli phase one project currently pending before the Yonkers City Council and the $2.3-billion Alexander Street Urban Renewal Plan currently pending before the Community Development Agency. Officials with Homes for America Holdings Inc., which recently presented its revised plan for its $900-million Point Street Landing project in the Alexander Avenue district, stated that the property is already in the state’s brownfield cleanup program in connection with the $30-million remediation of the former BICC Cable complex that is underway there.

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